Center for the History of Medicine
The Center for the History of Medicine at the Countway Library is one of the world’s leading collections in the history of health care and medicine, attracting researchers from around the world to consult its rare books and journals, archives and manuscripts, photographs and prints, and art and artifact collections. It has collections covering most medical disciplines, including anatomy, anesthesiology, cardiology, dentistry, neurology, obstetrics and gynecology, psychiatry, and surgery. The Center offers access to the personal and professional papers of prominent American physicians and is the institutional repository for the records of Harvard Medical School (founded 1782), Harvard School of Dental Medicine (1867), and Harvard School of Public Health (1922).
The Center for the History of Medicine's collection of archives and manuscripts, numbering between 15-20 million items, is the largest collection of its kind in the United States. The manuscripts collection includes the personal and professional records of physicians from the medieval and Renaissance periods through the twentieth century, including the professional papers of many renowned Harvard faculty members as well as physicians and scientists from New England and around the country. Notable collections include those of Grete Bibring, Maxwell Finland, Henry Beecher, Walter Bradford Cannon, Jacob Bigelow, Clarence J. Gamble, Henry Pickering Bowditch, Oliver Wendell Holmes, John Collins Warren, Stanley Cobb, James Jackson Putnam, and Benjamin Waterhouse. The Center houses the largest number of collections in the United States documenting the history of plastic and reconstructive surgery, containing over 600 linear feet of official records of regional, national, and international organizations, and the personal papers of prominent plastic surgeons. The Archives feature planning and policy records of the Deans' Offices, minutes of faculty committees, accreditation records, curricular materials, and departmental records of academic and administrative offices from the late 19th century to the present day. Boston Medical Library records include committee records, correspondence, and collection development records. https://legacy.countway.harvard.edu/menuNavigation/chom/collections/arm.html#Manuscripts. Some finding aids are available online: https://legacy.countway.harvard.edu/menuNavigation/chom/access/findingaids.html.
The Center also houses the art collections of the Boston Medical Library and the Harvard Medical School, which consists of a print and photographic collection of approximately 100,000 items, including portraits of Massachusetts physicians as well as the Manfed Kramer Collection of Medical Prints and Satires. There is also a small artifact collection consisting of instruments, machines, plaques, and medals. The Horatio Storer Collection of Medical Medals, containing 6,000 items, is considered to be one of the world's largest medical numismatic collections. https://legacy.countway.harvard.edu/menuNavigation/chom/collections/art.html.
The Center has its own print and photograph collections containing approximately 30,000 items. The collections include portraits of physicians, images of medical and teaching facilities (exteriors and interiors), operations, and instruments, as well as an extensive collection of caricatures and satires. Some finding aids are available online. https://legacy.countway.harvard.edu/menuNavigation/chom/collections/prints.html.
The Rare Books collection includes a wide variety of books covering subject areas of anatomy, gynecology and obstetrics, radiology, medical jurisprudence, neurology, surgery, psychology, phrenology, physicians' travel narratives, medical botany, pharmacy and pharmacology, and internal medicine. There are particular strengths in medical incunabula—with over 800 books printed before 1501—European books printed from the sixteenth through the nineteenth century, and English publications before 1800. The Countway also holds a comprehensive collection of American, particularly New England, medical imprints of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. https://legacy.countway.harvard.edu/menuNavigation/chom/collections/books.html.
The Countway Library also holds specific archival collections. The Archives for Women in Medicine (AWM) collection documents and celebrates the ongoing evolution of women’s contributions in medicine. The research collections include The Mary Ellen Avery Papers, 1929-2002; The Leona Baumgartner Papers, 1830-1979; The Grete L. Bibring Papers, 1882-1977; The Myrtelle M. Canavan Papers, 1898-1945; The Lydia M. Gibson Dawes Papers,1926-1959; The Ethel C. Dunham Papers, 1952-1965; The Carola Eisenberg Papers, 1945-2006; The Anne Pappenheimer Forbes Papers, 1930-1991; The Elizabeth D. Hay Papers, 1922-2007; The E. Tessa Hedley-Whyte Papers, 1956-2006; The Mary Lee Ingbar Papers, 1946-1996; The Joanne S. Ingwall Papers, 1961-2009; The Irma S. Jarcho Student Notebooks, 1944-1945; The Fanny Bowditch Katz Papers, 1901-1934; The Janet Ward McArthur Papers, 1939-2005; The Christiana Morgan Papers, 1925-1974; The Marian Cabot Putnam Papers, 1877-1978; and The Lynne M. Reid Papers, 1933-1997. Items from the AWM collection have also been digitized as part of the Countway Library’s OnView project. This includes digitized letters, photographs, research records, and other materials. https://legacy.countway.harvard.edu/menuNavigation/chom/awm.html. OnView: http://collections.countway.harvard.edu/onview/collections/show/2.
The Center for the History Medicine also holds the historical archives of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School. Collections include administrative and public relations records (1855 to 1979) from BWH's parent hospitals, including the Boston Lying-in Hospital, the Free Hospital for Women, the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, the Robert B. Brigham Hospital, the Boston Hospital for Women, and the Affiliated Hospitals Center, Inc. The BWH Archives also collects and preserves historically noteworthy records of the Brigham and Women's Hospital from 1980 to the present. https://legacy.countway.harvard.edu/menuNavigation/chom/brigham.html.
Foundations of Public Health Policy (FPHP) collection includes manuscripts of influential leaders in the field of public health and public health administration. Collections open for research include Allan Macy Butler Papers, 1916-1986; Leona Baumgartner Papers, 1930-1970; Howard H. Hiatt Papers, 1940-2001; Harvard School of Public Health. Office of the Dean. Records,1961-1985; David D. Rutstein Papers, 1916-1989; Alexander D. Langmuir Papers, 1953-1971; Irma Jarcho Student notebooks, 1944-1945; James Laverre Whittenberger Papers, 1933-1963;and Richard Pearson Strong Papers, 1911-2004. https://legacy.countway.harvard.edu/menuNavigation/chom/fphp.html
The Warren Anatomical Museum (WAM) collection contains approximately 15,000 artifacts and cases including: anatomical and pathological preparations; various wax, paper mache, and dry preparation anatomical models; photographs, prints, paintings, and drawings; medical instruments and machines; and other medical memorabilia. Along with the well-known skull of Phineas Gage, the Museum holds many other rare and interesting items. Among these are the Phrenological Collection of Johann Gaspar Spurzheim, the Boston Society for Medical Improvement collection, and a W. T. G. Morton-type ether inhaler. https://legacy.countway.harvard.edu/menuNavigation/chom/warren.html.
The Center for the History of Medicine also offers fellowships for research at the Library. Information about the Countway Fellowships in the History of Medicine can be found here: https://www.countway.harvard.edu/chom/center-fellowships. There is also a specific fellowship connected to the Archives for Women in Medicine. Information about the Foundation for the History of Women in Medicine Research Fellowships can be found here: https://www.countway.harvard.edu/chom/archives-women-medicine-fellowships.
The Center for the History Medicine also has online exhibits, OnView. These exhibits are curated content from the Center’s extraordinary collections. There are currently 35 online exhibits. Some highlights include: Mary Ellen Avery: Highlights from Her Collection http://collections.countway.harvard.edu/onview/exhibits/show/avery; Strong Medicine: the Healing Response to the 2013 Marathon Bombing http://collections.countway.harvard.edu/onview/strongmedicine; Magical Stones and Imperial Bones http://collections.countway.harvard.edu/onview/exhibits/show/stones; and New Treasures: Recent Acquisitions at the Center for the History of Medicine http://collections.countway.harvard.edu/onview/exhibits/show/new-treasures---recent-acquisi. The OnView exhibits can be browsed here: http://collections.countway.harvard.edu/onview/exhibits.